The Republic of Senegal is a West African country colonised by the French. A multi-ethnic and secular nation, Senegal is predominantly Sunni Muslim with Sufi and animist influences. Even though French is the official language, many native languages are spoken and recognised. Senegal produces many important cash crops including cotton, sugarcane, tomatoes, peanuts, melons, mangoes and green beans. Due to its peace and stability, hospitality and tourism are also burgeoning sector of the economy. Following the 2012 presidential elections, Macky Sall has been Senegal’s president since April 2012. Senegal is one of the most peaceful and stable countries in Africa. Owing to the sustained period of stability, many international organizations are located in Dakar. Notwithstanding this, Senegal is undoubtedly vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
Senegal has recorded many warnings and threats of terror attacks in recent times. Whilst recording no incident of attack yet, Senegal remains a centre for radicalization, terrorist recruitment and logistics setting it up as key potential target for attacks. Many have been arrested recently on suspicion of having ties to ISIS, Boko Haram and other similar groups. About 30 individuals are estimated to have left Senegal to join the ranks of ISIS in Libya, Syria and Iraq in pursuit of the expansion of the Islamic Caliphate. In February 2017, two Malians were detained on suspicion of having ties to Al-Mourabitoun, the Al-Qaeda affiliate. In March 2016, four Imams were arrested in Kaolack on suspicion of aiding in terrorist recruitment.
Senegal is a contributor to the United Nations Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), mandated to counter the activities of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its affiliates in the region. The President Macky Sall in May 2017 sanctioned a rapid intervention force of Senegalese troops to Central Mali. Senegal currently hosts operational and logistical support bases for France’s Operation Barkhane mission, a multipronged military initiative aimed at countering terrorist activities across the Sahel. These collectively together with the country’s increasing contribution to counter terrorism efforts in the region, its proximity to Mali and as a sustained centre for a vicious terrorist campaign with porous borders, renders it susceptible to terrorist attacks.
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